Inter and AC Milan will lock horns in the first Milan Derby of the season this Saturday’s evening.
Both sides began their campaign in the new season with impressive form, winning each of their opening three games in Serie A so far in 2023-24 which have put them ahead of the rest as the top two teams in the league and the only ones with perfect records, but that will definitely come to end for someone this evening.
Stefano Pioli said in his pre-match press conference that he has banished the memories of the four derby defeats from earlier in 2023, instead focusing on what problems his side can cause their noisy neighbours.
It has not been an ideal period of preparation for Pioli ahead of the game, for a couple of different reasons. The first is that the international break saw over 10 of his first team squad leave to represent their countries, with some arriving back as late as Wednesday.
The second reason is injury related. England defender Fikayo Tomori got a one-game ban for his red card against Roma and though Pierre Kalulu was expected to step into his place and Malick Thiaw, he picked up a thigh issue which should see him out for a couple of weeks.
That means Simon Kjaer – a centre-back option used sparingly by Pioli this calendar year – will partner Thiaw at the heart of defence in what is an unprecedented pairing, and they are trying to keep Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram quiet who are both full of confidence.
Meanwhile, Olivier Giroud sustained a sprained ankle on France duty and returned to Italy early. He has shrugged off the problem and trained with the squad on Thursday and Friday, but cannot be at 100%.
The other players not available will be Mattia Caldara – who Pioli revealed will be out for a while with an ankle problem he picked up – and Ismael Bennacer.
According to the latest from Sky, the one change to the line-up from the first three games of the season will be at centre-back, with Kjaer coming in for Tomori as mentioned above.
Mike Maignan will retain his place in goal with Davide Calabria and Theo Hernandez as the right-back and left-back completing the four-man defence.